For people in modern Western societies, it is the essence of what we hold sacred - the individual - that we do not prejudge a person's current politics based on their inherited (political-)religious tradition. We believe in individual freedom and conscience (as the gift of divine love). We can't say that all Muslims want to make the whole world into a single Sharia state, even if that goal is outlined in Islamic holy books, unless we are deferring to an orthodox Islamic understanding of the sacred, or perhaps to a puritanical instinct of our own.
That's to say, there are some among us who insist that Islam, proper, is indeed about submission to an immutable core idea of Sharia and Jihad. If you're not doing and thinking what the Koran and the other Muslim holy texts, in the bulk of their more authoratative pronouncements clearly favour - i.e. making a sharp and often bitter distinction between the believer who submits to Islam, and the non-believer, infidel, or kafir - then you are simply not a Muslim and should call yourself something else. And yet, such a belief cannot escape the pragmatic fact that there are people who call themselves Muslims who believe they have some flexibility in shaping the boundaries of what is Islam and in choosing how to address the non-believer.
It will be interesting to see who wins this war of words, and what will be the terms of understanding in the "peace treaty" that emerges from present global conflicts. In the meantime, and with an eye to being on the side that gets to shape the terms of the future peace (as best suits our modern needs), do we best fight the conflict by seeking to polarize it, along the lines of orthodox or radical Islam, or do we best subvert orthodoxy by denying its take on reality? Some Westerners think belief in a "moderate Islam" is just a form of dangerous denial of (and opening doors to) the great threat we face, while others see the belief as necessary to sustaining a tactical and realistic flexibility that is to our advantage. Depending on context, there are strong arguments for both sides. But it is ultimately to imagining the terms of the future peace that we must give our deepest reflection, in trying to fit tactics to the strategic goals of our warfare.
In today's National Post, Barbara Kay returns to the field with another contender in the name game, "Islamolucidity", in her discussion of the Quebec website, Point de Bascule, that we mentioned earlier for its challenge to the Canadian Human Rights Commission:
If nothing else, the publicity generated by the human-rights-commission show trials of journalists Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn proves that a new word is needed to define good-faith critics of ideological Islam -- something other than the incorrect and chilling, but increasingly reflexive, "Islamophobic."
By coincidence I just discovered one on a Quebec-based Web site --www.pointdebasculecanada.ca -- a nicely inclusive word: " Islamolucide." A clear-headed Islamolucide can be a liberal Muslim, such as Canada's outspoken university professor and pundit Salim Mansur; an ex-Muslim, such as Ibn Warriq, author of Why I am Not a Muslim; or anyone else who accepts Muslims as citizens equal to all others, but who condemns bids for Islamic entitlements that conflict with western values.
Islamolucides defend and more importantly promote the separation of church and state, individual rights, respect for all religious (or non-religious) choices, and a common legal system as beneficial for everyone, including Muslims.
The Quebec Web site's name -- " Point de bascule" (PdB)--means "tipping point." PdB defends Western values -- particularly the right to freedom of speech -- and provides a rallying point for Islamolucidite as a francophone bookend to the anglophone Muslim Canadian Council.
On Monday, PdB's director, Marc Lebuis, filed a complaint of "hate propaganda" with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Montreal Salafist Imam Hammaad Abu Sulaiman Al-Dameus Hayiti, who officiates at the Association Musulmane de Montreal Est mosque.
The complaint relates to the imam's book, downloadable in pdf format on the Internet, L'Islam ou L'Integrisme:A la Lumiere du Qor'an et de la Sounnah, as well as his Web-based extremist preachings. In both, the imam's supremacist, misogynistic and West-loathing epithets often target Quebecois, whom he characterizes as " khoufars" (infidels, impious), "stupid and ignorant" and --Quebec's women-- "perverse."
As a classic liberal, Lebuis believes this repugnant segregationist (who has also urged the destruction of such "idols" as secularism, democracy, human rights, freedom and modernity) should be perfectly free to spew his phobic bile. Short of the usual strictures against direct incitement to violence, Lebuis deplores any opinion censorship.
But Lebuis has become alarmed by the Orwellian thought-control creep we've seen lately in the name of human rights. His complaint, he explained in an interview, plays the minority politics game as a means to "test the CHRC's standard in tracking hate and propaganda."
Lebuis adds, with candid scorn for the near-complete journalistic silence on the especially virulent strain of Salafist Islamism in Quebec: "I would not be doing this if the [francophone] mainstream media were doing their job."
The Algerian-Canadian Islamolucides who frequent PdB are especially bitter about the francophone media's willed blindness to the jihadism in their midst. In Algeria, these Islamolucides were the victims of the very Islamism that parades so freely here, not only without media censure, but with the complicity of useful idiots like Barbara Hall and other Islam-besotted enablers.
A frequent PdB site visitor called "Jugurten" writes (my translation): "The Algerian Muslim Islamolucides that I know and who have succeeded in surviving [the Algerian conflicts] are full of resentment Many [of us who survived Algeria's civil war in the 1990s] travelled [to Canada] in the same airplane as those who threatened them with death, who burned their children and raped their wives."
Via a diversity of media, anglophone Canadians have access to a slew of Islamist specialists: To name but a familiar few: the Post's international terrorism expert Stewart Bell, radical-Islam observer Daniel Pipes, and the Middle East Media Research Institute.
No such dedicated Islamist critics grace the francophone media. In particular, while hostile francophone Islamists such as Imam Al-Hayiti exploit the Internet to the hilt, there is a dearth of francophone Web-based sites that expose Islamist agitprop. So PdB fills a significant gap in francophone Canadians' knowledge of the multiple threats Islamism poses to Quebec.
PdB attracts 50,000 hits a month (and rising), a mere bagatelle by the standards of popular English-language Websites, but a tsunami by francophone standards. Half PdB's visitors are Quebecois, half European and North African. Relevant borrowings of their material by Le Monde's blog confers additional credibility.